Gath Dig – Day 4 – Thursday, June 28

Gath Dig – Day 4

Iron Age wall Gath

Iron Age fortification wall at Gath

Today was another dig day. This means an early start at 5:20, arriving at the site by 5:30, and digging shortly before 6 a.m. The weather was again sunny, with morning/late morning temps in the high 80s.

Archaeological Approach

dirt pile Gath

Our growing pile of dirt at Gath

When we arrive at the site each morning, the procedure is this: Put up breakfast/break canopy; unlock chairs and tables and put them up too (seating for lunch and breaks); take all metal tools out of there trailer and that them to the area; raise the dig canopy over our area; map out a game plan for your square (in conversation with the area supervisor), and begin digging. Biblical archaeology is not rocket science, but it is science.

Archaeology is done in a way where there is certain way to dig, a certain time to use picks, hand tools, brushes, etc… There is a time to go down quickly (e.g. in order to find lower levels that may be stone walls, etc…) and a time to excavate more slowly. At all times, we are on the careful lookout for pottery, bones, and special objects.

grinding stone

A grinding stone

We also set loci (location levels) and gather pottery (and bones) into buckets from that locus. Based on the pottery and architecture uncovered (e.g. walls, whether they are mud-brick or stone), we gain a good sense of the stratification of each level we are digging through.

The Day’s Highlights

Today’s highlights in the square where I was working in were a few. First, we were able to dig through about a foot and a half of dirt today. Our objective is to hopefully find part of the gate structure that is believed to be still under us. Along the way, I have a basaltic grinding stone. This is classified as a special object. Levels were taken where it was uncovered, along with publishable pictures. Finding grinding stones is not that uncommon, but it was the first object found in our area so far.

Philistine pottery

Philistine flask

We continued to find lots of Philistine pottery as well. All totaled, we collected about 4 full buckets of pottery today, with lots of rims, bases, and bi-chrome ware. We even found a very nice top of a flash again (pictured). If we are digging in a chambered gate, the volume of pottery we are pulling from this area (maybe the gate?) should not be surprising. By the way, Philistine pottery is much different than Israelite pottery.

In our square and in the square next to us, we are hopeful that we both will be excavating down to the other side of the gate. This is at least the theory. While my last day is tomorrow, the dig continues for 3 more weeks. So hopeful some confirmation will eventually come to prove the theory correctly. 🙂

Pottery Washing & Reading

pottery from Gath

One day’s worth of pottery drying in the sun

After our watermelon break at 11 a.m., we continued to dig for another hour before packing it in for the day. We returned home for lunch and pottery washing in the afternoon. We also had our first pottery reading as well, with the experts (Dr. Erin Maeir) sitting around the table and identifying all the pottery food so far.

We also enjoyed a pizza party for dinner. Given how below par the food has been all week so far, the pizza was enjoyed by all!

Bedtime came early for most of us although some stay up and watch a World Cup soccer match. Not for this old guy! 🙂

Here are all the pictures from today.

Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018 Philistine pottery
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018 grinding stone
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018 grinding stone
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018 Philistine pottery
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018 pottery bucket
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018 fortification wall
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018 watermelon break
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018 bulk lines
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018

 

Tomorrow is my last day to dig. An update will be shared.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmailby feather

Gath Dig – Day 3 – Wednesday, June 27

Gath Dig – Day 3

Today was another early alarm clock day, getting up about 4:45 and leaving the kibbutz around 5:20. The day would be warm, with highs in the 90s. This is one reason why all excavations take place during the morning and early afternoon hours.

Highlight Discoveries

Clay flask

A spout of a Philistine clay flask

In the square where I am digging, we have an Israeli gal (Ahuva), a German gal (Ericka), and an New Zealander (John). We are digging inside an area where there may be the outer gate of the city. It it believed that already two chambers of this outer gate were uncovered in the last few seasons. Below our square is a 12th century wall (Iron Age I or IA I – 1,200 – 1,000 BC). However, towards the end of the IA I period and into the IA II period (1,000 BC – 586 BC), a gate may have been part of the fortification wall in this location.

Gath es safi dig

Work in our square (Ericka from Germany and John from New Zealand)

We moved a lot of dirt again today, much more than every other square in Area D East. We found about 10 bases of small storage jars, a rim of an oil lamp, and a spout of a flask. All totaled, our square yielded 2.5 buckets of pottery, more than any other square in our area. All of it was either IA I or IA II.

Once again, we started digging around 5:45, with a 10 minute coffee break at 7 a.m. and breakfast at 9 a.m. At 11 a.m. is our “melon” break (watermelon and cantaloupe). While working under the shade of the canopy, the air is hot. So the fruit is a nice refreshing snack!

Pottery Washing

Philistine ware

Philistine ware

We returned back to the kibbutz for lunch. At 3 p.m., we all joined in with pottery washing. Together we scrub all the pottery from the buckets taken from the site yesterday (they sit in water for a day). Not a lot of pottery was pulled yesterday, so it did not take too long. Washing pottery is a very important task, for it’s the pottery that helps us date structures (e.g. stone or mud-brick walls, and other architecture).

The rest of the day was for napping, relaxing, dinner and going to bed early! It all starts again tomorrow at 4:45 a.m.!

For all the pictures from today:

Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation Philistine pottery
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation Philistine pottery
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation Gate chamber?
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation oil lamp
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation
spout flask Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation pottery washing
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation pottery washing
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation Philistine ware
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation pottery guide

 

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s update!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmailby feather

Gath Dig – Day 2 – Tuesday, June 26

Gath Dig – Day 2

Today was the second day of the Gath dig and first real excavating day. We again left at 5:20 and arrived at the site for sunrise to the east. It would be a productive day of getting into our squares.

Shade Canopy Raising

Gath

Raising of the shade canopy at Area D at Gath

Shortly after arriving and unloading the equipment & tools for the day, we raised the shade canopy. Supported by about 25 poles and tension lines, we all together raised our poles and up went the canopy. Each square now in Area D is now shaded from the hot Israel sun.

The Digging Begins

So with tools in hand (picks, tareas -hoes, hand tools, spades, and brushes, etc…), we began to dig. Each square is managed by a square supervisor. The square where I am digging is located just inside the 12th century BC fortification wall. It shows promise that this was also the location of a city gate. But we’ll see what is discovered over the next 3.5 weeks. The area supervisor is Dr. Jeff Chadwick from BYU University here in Jerusalem.

Philistine ware Gath

Philistine ware

The digging begins within each square by first getting elevation readings and then determining how to continue to dig down based on last year’s records. The objective (and hope) in our square is to get down to a level that matches the possible two “chambers” protruding from the opposite wall. By the end of the day we dug down about 8-10 inches.

Of course a dirt pile was started. We discard dirt from the squares by using small buckets. We then carry them to the wheel-barrows and then dump it in one pile. From early morning to when we left the site at 1 p.m., the dirt pile is off to a good start. :). It’s getting bigger and bigger. This is the non-glamorous part of archaeology.

Buckets for pottery and bones are also used. Each piece of pottery that comes from the squares is collected in buckets and recorded. “Special finds” (e.g. objects) will get their own identification. In our square we filled about 1.5 buckets with pottery. Some pieces were large jar handles, while other pieces were classic 2-color bi-chrome ware. This type of pottery is Philistine from the 10th century. Reddish pottery (9th century BC) is also Philistine in nature.

Back to the Kibbutz

Re returned back to the kibbutz by 1:30 for lunch. We brought back the buckets of pottery from each of the squares. We filled the buckets with water and will wash and sort this pottery tomorrow. A few lectures took place this afternoon and evening.

For a complete collection of pictures from the day:

BIT_0086
BIT_0088
BIT_0094
BIT_0096
BIT_0090
BIT_0098
BIT_0102
BIT_0106
BIT_0116
BIT_0118
BIT_0122
BIT_0090
BIT_0132
BIT_0128

 

More updates tomorrow.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmailby feather

The Potter’s Wheel

Potter working with clayWho controls your life?  You or God?  It’s actually a critical question for all of us to answer if we want to live out our brief time here on earth with purpose and eternal joy.

When I think of how I answer this important question (and believe me, I sometimes struggle with it), the image that comes to mind is that of a potter. This takes me back to the days in high school when I had the opportunity to work with clay. I only vaguely remember the details, but it’s probably because I didn’t even come close to mastering the art of working with clay. Indeed, there is a lot of skill and patience behind making a beautiful vessel, something I did not come close to conquering. For sure, I failed to become a good potter!

In the days of the Bible, being a potter was a skilled profession. In fact, being a potter was quite a common occupation. Given the amount of broken pottery that is found at archaeological sites in Israel, there was never a shortage of pottery. For example, this past June while excavating at Tel Gezer, we filled many buckets with fragments of pottery just from one small square. Truth is, bowls, jugs, oil lamps, and cooking ware had to be made constantly to meet the needs of the average family. In other words, if you were a potter, you were one who enjoyed a high level of job security. 

Canaanite potteryMost pieces of pottery was done on a potter’s wheel. Once the vessel was shaped and molded, it was then fired. In fact, when you pick up a piece of pottery at any given Old Testament site, you can typically tell how long that piece of pottery was fired. The indicator is the width of the blackened portion in the middle of the piece of pottery. The middle part of a thicker piece pottery generally is wider than a thinner piece.  Additionally, the outside details on any piece of pottery is an indicator of the skill of the potter. Certain pottery was glazed and colored. Other times a potter would put pinch a fancy border on the vessel he was working with, giving it a personal touch, if you will.

Let’s go back to the initial question now – Who controls your life?  If we answer “me” (like we all do in certain moments or days of our lives), most likely we will then miss the opportunities to be shaped by God, like a piece of clay in the potter’s hand. For sure, God wants to shape us by His grace and love so that we reflect Him to others. However, if we answer the question – Who controls your life? – with “God,” then we are living moment by moment as a beautiful vessel fulfilling God’s purpose.  God gives us the opportunity to live as His masterpiece if we allow Him to mold and shape us.  I like what Max Lucado said about being shaped by God’s grace, “God’s grace ― his rumbling, tumbling reservoir of strength and protection ― is at work. Grace is still molding you and forming you. Strengthening you and emboldening you. Shaking you and shaping you. You are God’s masterpiece in the making. So let’s let grace do its work.” (in Shaped by Grace)

A primary ministry theme of Biblical Israel Ministries & Tours is pretty straightforward – “transforming lives.”  The ultimate goal of our ministry is not simply to lead tours to Israel, see where it all happened, read Scriptures on site, consider the life of Christ, and come back home and say “that was a great trip!”   It’s not even just about teaching information about the context of the Bible. Rather it is about spiritual formation. It’s about encouraging people to take that next step in allowing God to shape and mold them like a potter does a piece of clay. It’s about getting excited about God’s Word that has a way of transforming us (2 Timothy 3:16). The ministry is based on Isaiah 64:7 that reminds us that God is the potter and we are the clay!

But apart from this ministry, on an individual level this is how God invites all of us to live out our lives… as a piece of clay in the Master’s hands!  I know, somedays we don’t feel to moldable, do we?  Other days, we would rather for God to leave us alone a little. But God’s intent as a potter is to simply shape us into something beautiful and useable for Him!

Enjoy this brief video piece entitled The Potter. It is a video brought by Sourceflix

The Potter from SourceFlix.com on Vimeo.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmailby feather

Tel Motza – a New Discovery

New discoveries in Israel are always rewarding for any archaeologist.  Most of the time, new “finds” comes as a result of a methodical and tedious process, often times after years and years of digging.  The best example I can think of is the pereverance of the late Israeli archaeologist, Ehud Netzer, who after 35 years discovered the tomb of Herod the Great (Incidentally, an new reconstructed model of this tomb is now on display in the Hebrew Museum in Jerusalem).  At other times, new finds come by accident, literally. The 2nd temple tomb on the slopes of Mt. Carmel come to mind.  This tomb was found as a result of widening the road.  Who would have ever thought it would be bulldozers … Continue reading